If a company with operations in the extractive industry systematically ignores the complaints of people in its project area, does so at its own risk. Complaints that are not acknowledged can turn into protests, strikes, or violent acts which can interrupt work and tarnish the company name on international markets.
Best Industry Practices
There are numerous publications on how to address grievances with sound processes. There are many principles to take into account when setting up a proper grievance management system, and a number of them are mentioned regularly in the literature. A best practice grievance system should be accessible, transparent, predictable, and safe. The system should also provide an opportunity for dialogue between the company and the community.
Most companies in the extractive industry cannot adopt these principles without making some significant changes in their business processes and corporate culture. Often a company may perceive complaints as something negative that should be hidden and ignored. To adhere to international best practice such a company would have to set up a process to help people file complaints in a safe and secure way and to address them in a fair and transparent manner. This change in philosophy does not happen overnight.
The Key to Success in grievance management
Our experts help companies that want to adopt best practice grievance management systems to adapt their business processes accordingly. As consultants and business analysts they have noted that companies that have the most success at establishing effective grievance mechanisms are those who see complaints as an opportunity for dialogue with project affected peoples.
An information management system (IMS) can serve as an effective tool for grievance management. But the tool in itself is not enough. Once the IMS in place, upper management should make sure that employees are actually using it and that the company’s business processes have been changed.
To learn more about this, you can read our white paper on grievance management.